Maximum Impact

“When a boy turns 13, put him in a barrel and nail the lid on the top. Feed him through the knothole. When he turns 16, put a plug in the knothole!”

That’s Mark Twain’s tongue-in-cheek child-rearing advice when it comes to young men. Having been a teenage boy myself, and having raised two sons, I’m convinced there’s a better way to help boys grow into the manhood—the way that God intended.

If you’re a man looking to make a greater impact at home, church, work, or in your community, I highly recommend Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood  by Dennis Rainey. It does an excellent job of giving men the vision and tools to live godly, courageous lives and raise up sons “in the way they should go.”

Dennis begins by writing about what it takes to be a man of courage, and then he moves into detailed descriptions of the five stages of a man’s life: boyhood, adolescence, manhood, mentor, and patriarch. The entire book is inspiring, but I was especially blessed and challenged by the fifth stage: being a patriarch (an age of influence and relevance). This section is worth the price of the book, especially for those of us who are either in or entering the grandfather stage of life.

In the section on being a patriarch, Rainey writes: “Today, patriarchs are men who reach down the steps, investing in the generations to come. They are men who realize their potential to have a lasting influence in their families and communities. . . . Patriarchs understand the power of love and relationships. True patriarchs are humble men of grace and forgiveness. They deliberately build relationships with their families.”

I’m extremely blessed to have several godly mentors still speaking truth into my life. I’ve also observed a number of great examples of what it means to be a patriarch. I now desire to step up to this challenge and become a better patriarch for my family in the coming years.

I certainly resonate with the psalmist’s prayer, “Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come” (Psalm 71:17-18).  May we each take these verses to heart and use what we’ve learned about God and how we’ve experienced His character to tell His story to those coming up behind us.

What “marvelous deeds” can you declare today? In what areas can you step up into greater impact for the Gospel—in your home, at church, at work, or in your community?

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